Tag: Retirement

Discipline Equals Freedom

If you’re not familiar with Jocko Willink, he’s worth following. He’s a very frightening former navy seal commander who’s written a number of books, has a very popular podcast, and famously posts a picture of his watch on Instagram at 0430 every morning as he starts his daily workout. His mantra is discipline equals freedom. The more disciplined you are at getting your shit done, the more freedom you’ll have at the end of day. Admiral William H McRaven gave a very popular speech saying something similar – “Want to change world? Start by making your bed”. Life coach Jordon Peterson says to clean up your life, start by cleaning your room. They’re all advocating for some derivative of adding structure to your life.

Exactly seven months ago we made the decision to begin divesting from work and starting the move towards retirement. And exactly seven months ago I wrote a post lamenting that I needed more structure in my life. And how has that gone? Well, I, uhm, errr, ahem… haven’t done anything different. I wake up every day with exactly zero plan for the day. Of course there’s always the random appointment you need to keep, or a trip that was set up, or a social get-together. But my plan for the week is never anything more than a vague thought in the back of my head. I know it’s going to get hot later in the week so I’ll mountain bike Monday and Tuesday. I should probably mow the lawn before the weekend. It looks like Wednesday is going to be a powder day, so I’ll go cross country skiing today. We’re out of salad dressing, so maybe I’ll go to the store on the way home. Or maybe tomorrow. That’s it. That’s the sum total of my structure and planning, week in and week out.

It’s pretty hard to complain about that. I truly have a blessed life. It feels like I’ve been pretty damn busy the last seven months. I certainly haven’t had any shortage of things to fill my days. I think it’s clear I won’t be one of those guys who retires and then has no idea what to do with himself every day. But what have I actually done? I’m not actually sure what I’ve been doing all this time. There’s been some focus around the new ginormous motorcycle, but the rest of my time has been a bit of a blur. I know I’ve kept myself occupied, but doing what?

I had grand visions of making gourmet meals most nights and being on top of all the shopping and various household errands. There’s a number of household repair and yard maintenance things that need to be done. Getting back in the swing of a regular workout routine was high on the list of things to do. Being more focused on hobbies was also something I wrote about seven months ago. None of that has happened.

With a complete lack of structure, I’ve drifted along with whatever random thought came into my head on any given day. And like a spoiled child, most of my thoughts have been about playing and not necessarily taking care of business first. While it seems idyllic, I think the edges are starting to fray a bit. My weight has gone out of control without any sense of routine. Free feeding is not a recipe for success. The less I take care of business (home repair, cooking, yard work, etc…) the harder it is to be motivated to do those things. It’s hard to think about long term plans, like travel for Mrs Troutdog and I or even the next trip on the ginormous motorcycle when I don’t even have a plan for tomorrow. Even my copious playtime is starting to simply repeat the same things over and over. What happened to rediscovering some of my other hobbies that have been back-shelved for a while?

This is an incredibly fortunate and first world problem to have. But nonetheless, one I suspect I need to sort out before too long. As Jack Torrance said in The Shining, “all play and no work makes Jack a dull boy”. Ok, maybe that wasn’t exactly what he wrote but you get the gist. I still don’t see myself restarting a bullet journal or getting up at 0430 each day. But adding some level of structure to my week is looking more and more important. Maybe it’s just committing tasks to the calendar at the beginning of each week? Wait, that’s sort of the bullet journal isn’t it? Sigh… I don’t know. It’s terribly hard to become disciplined if that hasn’t been your nature. Maybe I’ll invent a new planning/tracking/goal setting methodology for newly retired folks. Become a retirement life-coach. This blog has been searching for a focus ever since I started writing it, maybe that’s what it should be? Can I practice what I’d preach? Hmm. Check back in six months and see if my new best selling “Life goals for retirement” book is underway. Meanwhile, I’m going mountain biking today. I’ll look at the calendar later. I promise.

I Might Be Lost

  • Many moons ago in a former life I was a member of a search and rescue team. I had training in many subjects; rope/technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, tracking, land and open water navigation, incident command, etc… Trust me, it sounds way cooler than reality. Nowadays I’d get lost driving to the doughnut shop without my phone navigation. Anyway, two things happened yesterday that drove home the importance of embracing the old boy scout motto – Be Prepared. The first was a quick snowshoe outing. Well, I thought it was going to be quick. It was to a place I’d never been and we have multiple feet of brand new snow. I brought nothing. No water, no gear, no first aid kit. We didn’t let anyone know where we were going. We wandered through the woods for several hours and by the time we got back to the car it was snowing pretty good. I know better and should have been at least minimally prepared. In my head I justified it with thinking it was a pretty highly visited area and our distance wasn’t very far. I didn’t think much more about it until late in the evening. Some folks we know in another part of the state managed to get lost and caught out after dark in the wilderness. Temps were dropping into the teens and snow was expected. We were on the phone on and off for hours as family tried to coordinate search and rescue efforts from afar. I fully expected to be heading north on a multi hour drive to start searching come first light. Details are still sketchy, but they were located and everyone seems to be ok. What’s the point of all this? We all get complacent. We put off planning and preparing. I’ll do it tomorrow. The problem with emergencies is that they happen when you least expect it. Do you have an emergency kit in your car? In your home? (Texas residents certainly never expected to be in their predicament) I’m not saying you need to go full on prepper mode, but could you and your family last three days if something happened? A week? If you’re heading out for some outdoor fun, does someone know where you’re going and when to worry if they don’t hear from you? I think society today has become conditioned to feel safe. Someone in authority will always be there to bail you out. I can always call and someone will come rescue me. Fortunately in this country that is true more often than not. I think the winning attitude is to assume that isn’t true and prepare accordingly. I know this was a wakeup call for me to stop being lazy and get my shit together. We have a local apparel company here that’s run by an ex SEAL called 30SEC Out. They have a sticker I really like that says “Expect to self rescue. No one is coming”. I think it’s a great motto for life in general. I may have to buy a few just remind myself.
  • According to VP Harris, they’re starting from scratch with their Covid response because there was no existing plan. Curious since the U.S. has carried out more vaccinations than any country in the world, and given a first dose to a higher percentage of its population (12%) than all but five small countries. Covid cases have plummeted by 77% in the US. There’s talk we’ll reach herd immunity by April. Which is also interesting because when the previous administration was in power, to mention herd immunity meant you were a science denier. Ain’t politics grand!
  • I bought a drone. Well, technically I’m on on the waiting list with an option to buy a drone when it’s available. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it yet. It’s capable of some truly amazing footage. I suspect I’m telling myself that the only thing keeping my little YouTube channel with 12 subscribers from going big time is not having a drone. Well, that and not actually making very many videos. I’ve got the adventure bike, the gear, the plans, the time, and soon the drone. I guess there are no more excuses. Bummer. Now I’m going to have to actually execute on all my grand plans for adventure content. As they say, talk is cheap. Planning is easy. It’s the doing that’s hard.
  • Is it just me, or does the new press secretary always seem unprepared? She had absolutely no answer when asked “Biden suspended a Trump Administration executive order that was aimed at keeping foreign countries, specifically China, from interfering in the U.S. Power grid… why did he do that?” As press sec, I would think you’d have an answer ready for any executive order your president signed. Especially one potentially related to a natural disaster that’s currently happening.
  • I don’t know what happened here, but yeet is right! Watch this seven second vid. And with that, I’m off to do my last full-time shifts. As my coworkers tell me, I’m moving to the princess shifts. I’ve been working since I was fourteen. It will be very strange to not be full-time. Exciting, worried I’ll be wasting my time, nervous about not being productive, looking forward to a new chapter, and a little apprehensive about the unknown. Time to face all those fears head-on!

Song of the day: Smash Mouth – All Star

Unity And Healing Are For Suckers

  • Today’s inauguration theme is “America United”. For half the country that’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow. The national press is churning out piece after piece with pithy phrases like “Now, the healing can begin”, or “It’s time to unite and heal”. You’ll also see plenty of “Let’s tone down the rhetoric” and “Biden deserves a chance”. Is that what we should do? Should the folks who opposed Biden be the better person and offer a more gracious and conciliatory tone? It is, after all, for the good of the country. At the end of the day aren’t we simply one united states, standing arm in arm, singing kumbaya? The celebrity world certainly thinks so, as evidenced by the noted scholar Chrissy Teigen (discovered working in a surf shop after a grueling high school academic career) who says today, “Today our great national fuckup is over, but the shame will last forever… Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to have the guy with barely enough well done steak with ketchup fueled brainpower to power a lightbulb who doesn’t even know how to close an umbrella run the country. History will not be kind to you, you absolute psychopath.” Journalists at least have risen above the petty insults, asking only “How Do We ‘Deprogram’ Millions of Racist, Violent Trump Supporters?” I’m not so sure simply rolling over and exposing my belly is the right choice. Something tells me no quarter will be given by the victorious army. I’m not an animal. I simply want what’s fair. After all, isn’t one of the Left’s central themes all about fairness? All I ask is that Biden be treated exactly the same way Trump was. No more, no less. Which pretty much means screaming like a rabid chimpanzee on Adderall 24/7.
  • At the end of the day, I’m actually pretty shallow and selfish about all this. Although I may write words that seem like I’m passionate about one side or the other, the truth is that I really don’t care. What do I care about? I want the market to go up and the economy to be strong. I don’t want my taxes to increase. I don’t want us involved in any more wars on foreign soil. I want to be able to say whatever drivel is on my mind without fear of being de-platformed. That’s it. I don’t really care who the president is as long as I can happily go off skiing, hike and run with my dog, ride my motorcycle, and enjoy time with friends and family. Everything else I leave to the passionate, woke, hipsters who will inherit this mess, to sort out. If the government will just kindly leave me alone, we’ll all be good.
  • Vulture put out a list of the top 50 greatest westerns ever made. Hang ’em High didn’t even make the list. Are you serious? The Outlaw Josey Wales is only 29th? Unforgiven and Searchers as numbers 2 and 1 I’m ok with.
  • Covid case counts have been dropping in 48 of 50 states for weeks now. To steal the tweet, the press won’t discover or report on this for weeks. When they do they’ll report that it was due to Biden’s mask mandate. Science, you know.
  • I found a bucket list of 75 things that any resident of my state should do. I’ve done 19 of them. Need to start pumping up those numbers.
  • I’m fascinated by the idea of doing either day or multi-day trips entirely on the older byways. Like route 66. Basically a slow drive through Americana, stopping at every “worlds largest ball of string” exhibit and small town museum. I know it’s been done a gazillion times, but what a neat photo essay that would be.
  • A decision has been made on the new motorcycle. Now, just need to figure out how to acquire it. Stay tuned.
  • And last, I sincerely hope the new administration is successful because I’m too old to rebuild my retirement accounts if they’re not. Also, #notmypresident. Am I doing it right?

Song of the day: Bush Machinehead LIVE 1996

I’m A Little Lost

I am not a planner. I have a little routine I follow on work days, otherwise I wake up and see what the day brings. That’s it. The sum total of how I manage my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about it. It’s a pretty blessed, idyllic existence. I have lots of hobbies that I cycle through depending on the mood of the moment, never excelling or mastering any of them. I get the basic home maintenance/repairs done, but usually because something broke. It never dawns on me to be proactive for that sort of thing. I like the idea of travel, but get overwhelmed at the idea of planning something so I usually don’t get beyond the random surfing of the internet for two hours stage. I’m kind of a Labrador retriever. A bit goofy, dumb, and happy to do whatever happens in the moment. While it’s worked for all these years, it leaves me with a continual, nagging, feeling of unrest. I have the time and means. I have no excuses for not accomplishing more with my life.

If you’ve been following along at home, I mentioned yesterday that Mrs Troutdog and I made the decision to begin what she calls “divesting from work”. I changed to a part time status at my job. The purpose is to start laying the groundwork for what retirement will eventually look like for us. I sat down this morning and tried to think about what I want to accomplish with this additional time. And I got paralyzed. I literally don’t know what to do. Should I make a master list of house projects? Maybe I should review all my hobbies and set some goals and plans for just a few of them, rather than sucking at a lot of things? I should probably get a meal planning and shopping routine going and tie that to a regular exercise regime. Perhaps I should set some travel agendas, both weekends and longer trips and start figuring out the cost and logistics?

I want to make a change. Not because I’m unhappy, but because time keeps marching on. And that scares me. Left to my current habits, two years will go by and nothing much will be different other than I’ll have more time for random hobbies and no travel will have occurred unless someone else plans it. I’m not satisfied with that, but struggle because I don’t know how to change – but also because I’ve never seriously tried.

I did quite a bit of reading of ‘self help’ type of blogs this morning and the consensus seems to be that you have to create a routine and you have to write down plans. The routine is both the simplest and hardest to get done. If it was that easy I’d be working out every day. But it’s clearly the foundation for everything else, so I will create a routine (this sounds suspiciously like a New Years resolution). The planning seems harder to me. I’ve tried the Bullet Journal in the past. I really enjoyed the process of setting it up… but after a few weeks I get tired of updating it and it fades away. I need a way to put down on paper (figuratively, I’m an electronic kinda guy) what I want to accomplish. Maybe I’ll just resurrect the Bullet Journal. I’m open to ideas if someone has something else that works for them. I need a way to see broad categories of things we want to do. Motorcycle trips, weekend sightseeing trips, big overseas trips. Do I want to investigate photography classes or work on my pitiful YouTube channel? Are there training goals for running or golf or skiing? I need to have a way of looking at that big list of things and then map that to a calendar. If I don’t put it on a calendar it likely isn’t going to happen.

This is a good problem to have. But it’s ridiculous that I’m so paralyzed by it. It’s also why I’m not a fabulously successful CEO. One of the problems with aging is that it suddenly dawns on you how little time you really have left. What do I want to do with that remaining time? I do know I don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted it. Interestingly, all of this started with a text message from Mrs Troutdog with a link to a travel video of Wyoming and saying she thinks she wants to travel the US by motorcycle. I’m truly blessed to have a partner in life who’s willing to think out of the box and take risks. She got the ball rolling, but I feel it’s on me to keep the momentum going. It’s an exciting time and also a bit scary. Changing how you’ve lived your life the last twenty years feels… challenging. In a good way.

I will now probably spend the rest of the day making lists and watching YouTube videos about living off the grid in Belize in a Sprinter van.

Who Doesn’t Like A Software Upgrade?

  • I think Scott Adams, the Dilbert guy, said it best about our current situation: “When you upgrade software, there is a moment in time in which you no longer have access to the old software but you have not yet completed loading the new version. That’s us, right now.” As someone who spent an entire previous life in the technology sector, I can assuredly say that all new software features and bug fixes are done with the best of intentions. But software is designed and written by people and best intentions sometimes have unintended consequences. For example, we put in a very clever new feature in at one point, designed to thwart DOS attacks on our system. It unfortunately took out the entire network for hundreds of thousands of people trying to tune in to watch the super bowl. Oops. We’re all waiting to see if this upgrade is the one we really wanted.
  • Overnight a Portland Antifa mob attempted to break into a police department, then went on to smash up businesses. Representative Nadler, chairman of the judiciary committee, says they’re a myth. That’s good, because otherwise I might be worried about living in Portland.
  • Update on the ginormous TV. The problem with the weird look (the soap opera effect) did indeed turn out to be the built in motion graphics. Turned that off and we’re back to the 24 frame look that’s expected.
  • The number of people fleeing CA, WA, hell, every big city, to our little town is overwhelming. Last year my local cross-country ski place on a Thursday afternoon would be empty. Maybe one other car in the parking lot. Yesterday the lot was completely full, cars circling for parking spots. I expect that on a weekend, but mid-day on a Thursday? I’m not sure I like this development.
  • The authentic voice discussion continues. Mrs Troutdog and I have been having some serious discussions. It’s getting less scary and a little more fun to think about what might be coming next. It can be overwhelming to realize that you only have so many years left to see and do things. How do I want to spend those years? First up will be some work changes. And keeping an actual budget that we stick to. I got all excited planning some road trips, then realized you also have to plan out what’s actually open these days. Damn virus. She hasn’t bought into the Sprinter van idea yet, but I’m crafting a killer power point presentation that may change her mind. Stay tuned.
  • Speaking of vehicles, I’m at a crossroads with my truck. Ten years old, runs great, have had very few (minor) service issues. Paid off long ago. I *think* it could reliably go another 75k miles without crazy expensive repairs. At least another 5 years at my annual mileage. The unknown is that it is of the age where the transmission could fall out tomorrow. Do I put money into it, bringing it up to the modern era and adding some desired upgrades? Or do I put that money into a new truck (likely my last new vehicle) that in theory will be more reliable for a longer period of time? Or do I hold out for the Tesla Cyber Truck? Opinions?

Song of the day: Cake – The Distance (Official Video)